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THE DIVINE COMPASSION

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springs" from the red mould and slimy roots of earth," the symbol of God's grace:

Thus doth God

Bring, from the dark and foul, the pure and bright.

And in "The Ages" he asks:

Has nature, in her calm, majestic march,
Faltered with age at last? ..

Look on this beautiful world, and read the truth
In her fair page.

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In his complacent arms, the earth, the air, the deep.
Will then the merciful One, who stamped our race
With his own image, . .

... leave a work so fair all blighted and accursed?

Oh, no! a thousand cheerful omens give

Hope of yet happier days, whose dawn is nigh.
He who has tamed the elements, shall not live
The slave of his own passions; he whose eye
Unwinds the eternal dances of the sky,
And in the abyss of brightness dares to span
The sun's broad circle, rising yet more high,
In God's magnificent works his will shall scan-

And love and peace shall make their paradise with man.

The poet's sympathy with nature is connected with his Puritan belief in man's fall. The external world is beautiful, because unfallen. It shares with man the effects of sin; but, whenever we retreat from the regions which man's folly has despoiled, we may find something which reminds us of our lost paradise. From the wrath and injustice of man, the Puritans fled to the untrodden wilderness, and in its solitudes they

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THE BEAUTIFUL UNFALLEN WORLD

found a sanctuary. In the "Inscription for the En

trance to a Wood," we read:

The primal curse

Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth,

But not in vengeance. God hath yoked to guilt
Her pale tormentor, misery.

And so all things work together for good, even though for the present they may seem to contradict the divine beneficence. Bryant's "Hymn to Death" makes even that grim messenger to be the protector of God's creatures:

Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been found
On virtue's side; the wicked, but for thee,

Had been too strong for the good; the great of earth
Had crushed the weak forever.

The "Hymn of the Waldenses" declares the justice of God:

Hear, Father, hear thy faint afflicted flock

Cry to thee, from the desert and the rock. . .

Thou, Lord, dost hold the thunder; the firm land
Tosses in billows when it feels thy hand. . .

Yet, mighty God, yet shall thy frown look forth
Unveiled, and terribly shall shake the earth.

But justice is mixed with love. He translates, from the Provençal of Bernard Rascas, the magnificent lines:

All things that are on earth shall wholly pass away,
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye.
The forms of men shall be as they had never been;
The blasted groves shall lose their fresh and tender green;

DIVINE JUSTICE AND LOVE

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And the great globe itself, so the holy writings tell,
With the rolling firmament, where the starry armies dwell,
Shall melt with fervent heat-they shall all pass away,
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye.

And from Boethius, on "The Order of Nature":

Thou who wouldst read, with an undarkened eye,
The laws by which the Thunderer bears sway,
Look at the stars that keep, in yonder sky,
Unbroken peace from Nature's earliest day.

Love binds the parts together, gladly still
They court the kind restraint, nor would be free;
Unless Love held them subject to the Will

That gave them being, they would cease to be.

This love cares for the individual, as well as for the great whole over which it rules. The poet, in "The Crowded Street," cannot think any human soul forgotten:

Each, where his tasks or pleasures call,
They pass, and heed each other not.
There is who heeds, who holds them all,
In his large care and boundless thought.

These struggling tides of life that seem
In wayward, aimless course to tend,
Are eddies of the mighty stream

That rolls to an appointed end.

There was a vein of humor in Bryant, which seldom came to the surface, but which his associates sometimes discovered. He invites his pastor, Doctor Dewey, to come with Mrs. Dewey and visit him at his countryseat on Long Island:

The season wears an aspect glum and glummer,
The icy north wind, an unwelcome comer,
Frighting from garden walks each pretty hummer,

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A VEIN OF HUMOR

Whose murmuring music lulled the noons of summer,
Roars in the woods, with grummer voice and grummer,
And thunders in the forest like a drummer.

Dumb are the birds-they could not well be dumber;
The winter-cold, life's pitiless benumber,

Bursts water-pipes, and makes us call the plumber.
Now, by the fireside, toils the patient thumber
Of ancient books, and no less patient summer
Of long accounts, while topers fill the rummer,
The maiden thinks what furs will best become her,
And on the stage-boards shouts the gibing mummer.
Shut in by storms, the dull piano-strummer
Murders old tunes. There's nothing wearisomer!

This rhyming would have done credit to Browning or Lowell. But Bryant's humor appeared more often in his editorial work than in his poetry. A witty opponent said that his articles always began with a stale joke, and ended with a fresh lie-an accusation which only shows how greatly the journalism of the day needed reformation.

No stanza of all Bryant's writing is better known or more often quoted than that from the poem entitled "The Battle-field":

Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;

Th' eternal years of God are hers;

But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshipers.

This verse has been criticized, as holding to some power of impersonal truth to conquer the world. In the light of our poet's other utterances, I must think this criticism unjust. Truth is personified only by poetic license. It has power only because it has God behind it, and because it is the very nature of God

TRUTH AND FREEDOM NOT IMPERSONAL

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himself. And so I must interpret those noble lines in "My Autumn Walk," in which Bryant exclaims:

Oh, for that better season,

When the pride of the foe shall yield,
And the hosts of God and Freedom

March back from the well-won field!

The hosts of truth and freedom are only the agents and instruments of God.

This persistent theism characterizes his short and fanciful, as well as his longer and more serious productions. I know of no more beautiful celebration of divine Providence than that of Bryant's address "To a Waterfowl." It brings down God's care into the affairs of individual life:

Whither, midst falling dew,

While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler's eye

Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.

Seek'st thou the plashy brink

Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?

There is a Power whose care

Teaches thy way along that pathless coast-
The desert and illimitable air-

Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,

At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.

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